BRIEFING FOR BAYWAY COMMUNITY RESIDENTS - March 7, 2015
by Walter Donnelly
Alliance for Bayway Communities (ABC) Leadership Team
This is an update on project that benefit all Bayway area residents:
- Changes to the Southwest water treatment plant
- Pinellas Bayway landscaping improvements
- Traffic, cycle and pedestrian safety
Southwest Water Reclamation Facility
The Alliance appeared before the City Development Review Commission on January 9th, and the full City Council on Feb 19th, as the City grappled with Eckerd College's opposition to the plan for a 15 million gallon, open-top reclaimed water tank. While ABC member Associations had been generally supportive of the City's plans for SWWRF, at both events we made note of the City Staff's guarantees to us at their Dec 1st briefing to us at The Allegro: that the SWWRF - including the new tank - would be camouflaged by foliage, and that the city would devote $9.2 million of new money to odor control. We vocally supported Eckerd's view that a smaller, closed-top tank was preferable, and also a good way to achieve the Alliance's two goals on SWWRF: "We don't want to see it; and we don't want to smell it!" However, we learned through Eckerd that the Mayor and the City Staff were convinced that plant operational flexibility required the larger, open-top tank. On Feb 17th, then, the City Council approved the construction of the larger tank. Construction should begin soon. We didn’t get the smaller tank. But, as a result of our work at City Hall, the City is now on public record that they have guaranteed that there will be no visual or olfactory offense from the upgraded Facility. We will watch what develops closely to make sure that there’s no amnesia.
Regrettably, Bayway landscaping is treated as an unfortunate confluence of City/County/State government, with each level pointing the finger at another level as being responsible for the effort and the associated funding. The FDOT is now responsible for the maintenance of landscaping on State roads, such as the Bayway. Their inside-of- the-box reaction to landscaping maintenance requests is to treat everything like the landscaping on an Interstate. Our comparisons of Bayway landscaping, particularly in summer, to that at the Isla Club, Eckerd College or even adjacent to the new bridge have resulted in polite but firm deflections, most of which have cited budgetary excuses.
Landscaping was the ABC's first project. We began work on it even before formally forming the Alliance. Our first output was a slide presentation of Bayway "horror show" landscaping sites. We've been pressing on the subject since last summer. Since we started early, we've already had two early notable achievements. First, DOT funding to improve landscaping along the Bayway is in hand and a landscaping design is being developed. City Staff has agreed to our request for a "Town Hall" briefing to ABC Boards and residents on funding, schedule, and the current state of the design.
Landscaping Briefing for Bayway Organizations by City Staff
Isla Y&CC on Sun Blvd,
April 7th at 1:30PM
Please put the word out to as many of your friends as you can.
As was the case with the Dec. 1 SWWRF brief, we get much better results if lots of residents show up, and the City knows that the voters are paying close attention!
All will note the considerable progress in completing the final segment of the Bayway bike trail from Marina Bay to the Sun Blvd. traffic light. Many of our member Associations were represented at the February meeting of our sister organization, the Benchmarking Group, when Cheryl Stacks from the City Staff gave a briefing on this project, and discussed future plans to improve the bike route down to the Tierra Verde bridge. We have some remaining issues in ensuring safety when pedestrians, bikes and cars interact along the new path. The City Staffers have heard our concerns, and agreed to look into ways to improve collision-avoidance.
ABC Leadership Team
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